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On November 20, 2016, Pete commented on Pokemon Go: Bringing video games into the real world :

Thanks, King! Your idea to expand the technology into new franchises has me very excited (a Harry Potter AR game would be awesome). I would be interested to know if Niantic has any plans to extend beyond the smartphone space into more robust AR platforms such as the Oculus. One of the struggles I have with this game is that I’m constantly sticking my phone out in front of me, which makes me look somewhat silly in public and also distracts me from the real world. I wonder if one day in the future we will all be wearing transparent goggles with AR technology, such that the AR and real reality can be integrated more seamlessly.

On November 20, 2016, Pete commented on Will Telemedicine Re-shape Our Healthcare Industry? :

Thanks for sharing, TW! I agree with all of the risks you’ve described above. I also agree with EIOs comment about the diagnostic difficulties that come about with that type of physical distance. In particular, there are a lot of medical specialties that require real tactile skill to make a diagnosis, and when you lose the ability to actually physically examine the patient, diagnosis can get a lot harder. One of the most striking examples of this is dermatology. I’ve known a number of dermatologists who have tried to see extra patients via these new ‘tele-‘ apps, and some of them have expressed some frustration that it is impossible to distinguish between a lot of radically different things via the phone (“is that red rash an infection? is it an autoimmune disease? or is it an artifact from your iPhone?). Even in some of the less tactile fields like psychiatry, the inability to physically be in the room with the patient can make diagnosis extremely difficult. And as you mention, doctors are still just as liable for the job they do via iPhone apps as they are in a patient examining room.

On November 20, 2016, Pete commented on Self-Driving… You Out of Business :

Interesting – I had no idea that speeding tickets made up such a large portion of government revenue!

I agree with your point that one of the biggest concerns is lost jobs in the auto repair industry. I think another large concern is that it seems our tolerance for accidents in self-driving cars is much lower than our tolerance for accidents that we humans cause ourselves. In other words, I’d be worried that even though 90% less accidents could happen in self-driving cars, the few accidents that do happen could have effects that resonate much more strongly – sort of like a plane crash in that we are injured by something that was out of our control. I’d worry that even a small handful of these crashes could bring down the industry, as people fear what is out of their control.

On November 20, 2016, Pete commented on Artificial Intelligence: The Future of Medicine? :

Awesome, and scary! I’m hoping that all those years of studying are not “obsolete,” but the diagnostic potential here is hard to debate. I do think that this point about patient resistance to non-human providers is an important one, especially given the suspicion that we already have about tech companies collecting other types of personal information. Of course, physicians already enter that data into databases, and computers can already integrate keywords to suggests diagnoses with decent accuracy. But by completely removing the physical person from that interaction, I think you lose an important element of trust. Trust between a doctor and patient is just as important to quality as good diagnostics, and I question whether or not people would be willing to reveal their anorexia, their depression, their history of abuse, to a computer screen that to date cannot reciprocate with any form of comfort or reassurance.

Interesting post! I would be curious to know whether any insurance companies use Fitbits as negative reinforcement (eg raising premiums on inactive people) in addition to the positive reinforcement (discounting premiums). In my limited knowledge of this, it seems like offering insurance discounts to perceived healthier individuals (or vice versa) can be a pretty controversial field. For example, what if people get injured on the job and become less mobile, leading to higher premiums? On the other hand, as you mention, these insurance costs can be pretty burdensome for companies. Maybe rewarding the active will save enough money such that companies don’t have to punish the inactive?

Thanks for sharing! I had no idea how sensitive coffee beans were to small changes in climate. It was also interesting to learn that some coffee companies take climate change more seriously than others. My fear, though, is that eventually the native growers will move as far ‘upslope’ as they can possibly get. At that point, even the most eco-conscious coffee company can probably not do much on its own to help these families. In contrast, I’d imagine that local governments may be able to do some good for these farmers. Do you know if these relatively large coffee companies (Starbucks, etc) do any overseas lobbying on behalf of their growers? Having some continuous source of government aid feels to me like a more sustainable solution, but then again I’m not sure how sustainable it would be in practice?

On November 6, 2016, Pete commented on Impossible Foods: How a Burger Will Save the World :

Awesome post, Steve! In regards to the concern about “consumer behavior and preferences,” I agree that the sentimental value we attach to an old fashioned burger is tough to change. However, I’m curious whether they have done any double-blind taste tests with burger aficionados and used those results as marketing tools to prove that they are equally great? While the hurdle may be tough at first, the you paint a great picture of the long-term environmental benefits outweighing the short-term skepticism.

My concern, though is about the cost to produce these burgers? I do not know much about the process of producing vegan food, but I assume that the meat industry as a whole has become very streamlined and good at maximizing its utilization / efficiency. What is your sense for how well vegan burgers can compete on their COGS?

On November 6, 2016, Pete commented on Anything but my beer :

Interesting article – I wonder if MillerCoors will one day have to start raising prices because of this, and if so what effect that will have on the demand for beer? My question though is if northern farmers are increasingly feeling crunched to pick between corn and barley on their shrinking plots of land, why doesn’t MillerCoors just contract with more farmers farther north? In other words, what incentive do they have to begin trying to minimize their water utilization if they are not indebted to any one, particular area? On the other end of things, I wonder if there is any research being done into barley seeds that can grow at warmer temperatures?

On November 6, 2016, Pete commented on From Chocolate Ice Cream to Deforestation in Borneo :

Thanks for a great article, Van! I lived on Borneo for a year and witnessed this type of clear-cutting often. I agree that a combined effort is necessary to combat this – as you mentioned, partnerships with government, NGOs, and education initiatives. To that list, I might single out the coal and oil industries as well. In addition to palm oil manufacturers, the Borneo is full of coal/oil producers (most notably Chevron and Total). What made their dealings particularly controversial was that these were foreign companies with a lot of negative influence over the local governments (bribes, tax breaks, etc). While governments and NGOs try constantly to change the behavior of these companies, I think those coordinated efforts are tough with such powerful companies. To that end, I wonder if larger organizations such as the UN Environment Program or the National Government of Indonesia, should jump into the fray?

Very interesting!! I have always wondered why Spaulding was elevated like that. In terms of the Zika connection, there is certainly a growing body of evidence that the Aedes mosquito (which spreads Zika, dengue, West Nile, and chikungunya) and the anopheles (malaria) are migrating North due to a warming climate. However, with the exception of Samoa, PR, Virgin Islands, and Miami, I’m actually a bit relieved by your second figure (to date, at least)! It looks like the majority of those reported cases are actually travel-associated cases as opposed to local vector-bourne transmission (the type that would imply mosquito migration due to warming climate).

Another area that has gotten a lot of buzz for climate-related changes is Lyme Disease ( While the Ixodes tick is endemic in pretty temperate climates, it is slowly taking over previously colder climates, with new outbreaks in Northern Michigan and parts of Scandinavia. This has been pretty thoroughly measured over the past 10+ years.